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Sci-Tech

SpaceX blasts Starship heat shield with industrial flamethrowers

Now that's what I call a flamethrower.

starshipnose

SpaceX's Starship hopper prior to falling over in a wind storm.

SpaceX

SpaceX and Elon Musk have big ambitions to send the Starship around the moon and eventually to Mars. The eye-catching stainless-steel spacecraft now under development will use a metallic heat shield, and that heat shield is already undergoing a pretty serious stress test.

Musk posted a video to Twitter overnight showing a dramatic and very loud roasting test and sharing the temperature: 1100 Celsius (2000 Fahrenheit). 

In an interview with Popular Mechanics, Musk described the unusual Starship heat shield as being "like a stainless-steel sandwich" with fuel or water flowing between the layers. The top layer has tiny perforations that bleed the liquid to the outside to help cool the spaceship. 

If you see Musk and a flamethrower mentioned anywhere near each other, it's going to conjure up thoughts of the Boring Company's infamous flamethrower saga

A Twitter user asked if SpaceX had borrowed some Boring flamethrowers for the test. "These are industrial strength," Musk answered. "Not recommended for use at home!" 

SpaceX built a prototype "hopper" Starship for takeoff and landing tests, but it suffered a setback this week when high winds in Texas blew the nose cone off. Musk says it will take several weeks to repair. At least we know the heat shield design seems to be holding up to punishment.